As sentinels of host defense, intestinal epithelial cells respond to the viral pathogen rotavirus by activating a gene expression that promotes immune cell recruitment and activation. We hypothesized that epithelial sensing of rotavirus might target dsRNA, which can be detected by TLR3 or protein kinase R (PKR). Accordingly, we observed that synthetic dsRNA, polyinosinic acid:cytidylic acid (poly(I:C)), potently induced gene remodeling in model intestinal epithelia with the specific pattern of expressed genes, including both classic proinflammatory genes (e.g., IL-8), as well as genes that are classically activated in virus-infected cells (e.g., IFN-responsive genes). Poly(I:C)-induced IL-8 was concentration dependent (2-100 μg/ml) and displayed slower kinetics compared with IL-8 induced by bacterial flagellin (ET50 ∼24 vs 8 h poly(I:C) vs flagellin, respectively). Although model epithelia expressed detectable TLR3 mRNA, neither TLR3-neutralizing Abs nor chloroquine, which blocks activation of intracellular TLR3, attenuated epithelial responses to poly(I:C). Conversely, poly(I:C)-induced phosphorylation of PKR and inhibitors of PKR, 2-aminopurine and adenine, ablated poly(I:C)-induced gene expression but had no effect on gene expression induced by flagellin, thus suggesting that intestinal epithelial cell detection of dsRNA relies on PKR. Consistent with poly(I:C) detection by an intracellular molecule such as PKR, we observed that both uptake of and responses to poly(I:C) were polarized to the basolateral side. Lastly, we observed that the pattern of pharmacologic inhibition of responses to poly(I:C) was identical to that seen in response to infection by live rotavirus, indicating a potentially important role for PKR in activating intestinal epithelial gene expression in rotavirus infection.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy